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UNSTOPPABLE

Rare Friday-Saturday Off Precedes Five Games in Seven Nights

This Week’s Games
Wed., March 8 - Peoria Rivermen at GRIFFINS - 7 p.m. - WOOD 1300 AM/B2 Networks


Sun., March 12 - GRIFFINS at Chicago Wolves - 4 p.m. - Comcast Local/WOOD

Last Week’s Results
Wed., March 1 - Cleveland Barons 1 at GRIFFINS 5 - 42-15-1-4, 89 pts. (1st, North Division)


Fri., March 3 - GRIFFINS 2 at Chicago Wolves 5 - 42-16-1-4, 89 pts. (1st)

Sun., March 5 - Rochester Americans 1 at GRIFFINS 6 - 43-16-1-4, 91 pts. (1st)

On the Verge: The Griffins, who continue to possess the most wins (43) and points (91) in the AHL, enter the week with an 11-point lead over both Manitoba and Syracuse in the North Division race. With Grand Rapids already having ensured a higher finish than both Cleveland and Hamilton, the Griffins’ magic number for securing a playoff spot outright now stands at six points over Rochester. They could clinch as early as this Friday, March 10.

A Couple Days Off: Following this Wednesday’s home contest against Peoria, a scheduling rarity will give the Griffins both Friday and Saturday off, providing them well-needed rest before plunging into a five-games-in-seven-nights set that begins Sunday in Chicago. Discounting three holiday instances (in which the Griffins were off consecutively for either Christmas Eve/Christmas Day or New Year’s Eve/New Year’sDay), this weekend will mark just the second time in the team’s history and the first time in three years that it is idle on both a Friday and Saturday. The prior occurrence – March 21-22, 2003 – came after the Griffins had played six games in the preceding nine days, including five road contests in a seven-day span.

Nobody Does it Better: Donald MacLean broke Michel Picard’s nine-year-old franchise record by scoring his AHL-high 47th goal of the season on Sunday against Rochester, adding to the team marks he has already set this season for power play goals (18) and longest point streak (19 games). The unprecedented success of MacLean, whose current five-game goal-scoring binge is one shy of the Griffins standard, can be seen in the following numbers:

0 – Griffins players who have led the league in goals (Binghamton’s Denis Hamel currently stands second with 38);
0.59 – MacLean’s goals-per-game average for his Griffins career (previous franchise record = 0.45, Mark Mowers);
0.76 – MacLean’s goals-per-game average this season (franchise record = 0.56, Michel Picard in 1996-97);
5 – Years since an AHL player scored 50 goals, MacLean’s next target (Brad Smyth, 2000-01 Hartford);
25 – Games, out of the last 26, in which MacLean has recorded a point (27-14—41);
32 – Games, out of the last 34, in which he has recorded a point (35-18—53);
45 – Times in the previous 69 AHL seasons that a player reached 50 goals;
46 – Goals scored by MacLean in his last 53 outings (0.87 per game);
52 – Grand Rapids pro hockey record for goals scored in a single season (George Parker, 1950-51 IHL Rockets);
58 – MacLean’s current goal-scoring pace, a total that would rank sixth in AHL history;
70 – Points by MacLean this season, tied for fifth in the AHL and already ninth on the Griffins’ single-season chart.

Hundred for Hudler?: Only 94 players in AHL history have eclipsed the 100-point plateau, but Jiri Hudler is attempting to join that exclusive club. Hudler’s 81 points – currently third in the league and just four off the leader, Houston’s Kirby Law – put him on track for 101, which would tie the franchise mark set by Michel Picard in 1996-97. Just the seventh player in franchise history and the first in three years to reach the 80-point milestone, Hudler could join Derek King (83 points in 2000-01) as the only Griffins to win a scoring title. His two goals on Sunday versus Rochester give him 32 for the season and 61 for his Grand Rapids career, tying him with Slava Butsayev for third on the team’s all-time list.

Kopecky Gets the Call: Tomas Kopecky made his NHL debut with Detroit last Tuesday in the Red Wings’ 5-1 loss at San Jose, logging 9:41 in ice time and finishing plus-1. He became the 79th Griffins alumnus to play in the NHL.

Spread the Wealth: The Griffins already have the most 40-point scorers (10) and 20-assist men (12) of any team in franchise history, obliterating the previous highs of six (2000-01 and 1999-00) and eight (four times), respectively. Their five players with at least 50 points tie the record set in 2000-01.

Who’s Hot?: Tomas Kopecky has points in four of his last six games (3-3—6)…Kent McDonell, whose four-game point streak (2-3—5) ended Sunday, has points in five of the last seven outings (2-5—7)…Valtteri Filppula has assists in four of his last six appearances (0-5—5)…Bryan Helmer, owner of a five-game assist streak (0-5—5), has points in 12 of 16 games (1-14—15) and 18 of 23 games (2-22—24)…Jiri Hudler has points in eight of 11 games (7-9—16)…Darryl Bootland has goals in four of the last six games (4-2—6), giving him a career-high 19 on the season…Jimmy Howard has led the team to points in 14 of his last 15 decisions (12-1-1-1).

League Leaders: Jiri Hudler: 32 goals (6th), 49 assists (3rd), 81 points (3rd) and six game-winning goals (T4th); Donald MacLean: 47 goals (1st), 70 points (T5th), 18 power play goals (T2nd) and seven game-winning goals (T2nd); Eric Manlow: 41 assists (T10th) and 57 points (T18th); Valtteri Filppula: 38 assists (T17th) and a plus-15 rating (T16th); Tomas Kopecky: Plus-16 rating (T12th); Kent McDonell: 14 power play goals (T7th) and five game-winning goals (T8th); Matt Ellis: Plus-14 rating (T19th) and two shorthanded goals (T14th); Bryan Helmer: Plus-21 rating (T3rd) and 44 points (7th among defensemen); Darryl Bootland: 282 penalty minutes (2nd); Nate DiCasmirro: Plus-21 rating (T3rd); Clay Wilson: two shorthanded goals (T14th); Joey MacDonald: 16 wins (T13th) and two shutouts (T11th); Jimmy Howard: 16 wins (T13th) and a 2.84 GAA (T18th).

This Week in Griffins History: March 6: Two goals by Michel Picard propel Grand Rapids to a 2-1 win at San Antonio. With the victory, the Griffins become the first team to secure a spot in the 2004 Calder Cup playoffs and clinch a postseason berth on their earliest date ever (2004). March 7: Griffins make their first-ever visit to Minnesota for the rematch of the Jan. 22 game in Houston that was postponed. The Aeros take a 3-1 win at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul (2005). March 8: Michel Picard's goal 1:07 into overtime gives Grand Rapids a 4-3 triumph at San Antonio (2003). March 9: Thanks to losses by Rochester and Cincinnati, the idle Griffins claim the 2002-03 John Chick Trophy as champions of the Central Division. The title marks their second straight as AHL members and fourth consecutive overall, dating back to the 1999-00 IHL campaign (2003). March 10: A 4-3 shootout win at Michigan gives Guy Charron his 71st win as the Griffins’ head coach, setting a franchise record (2000). March 11: Griffins receive center Jeff Panzer on loan from the Syracuse Crunch in exchange for left wing Nathan Robinson. Later that night, Joey MacDonald sets a Griffins mark by playing in his 16th straight game in goal during a 3-2 overtime win against Manitoba (2005). March 12: Matt Ellis becomes the first player in Griffins history to score two shorthanded goals in a home game, leading Grand Rapids to a 4-1 triumph over Hamilton. Niklas Kronwall registers two helpers to break Travis Richards’ franchise record for assists by a defenseman in one season (2005).

Scouting Report


Wed., March 8 vs. Peoria Rivermen (34-22-1-4) – Van Andel Arena – 7 p.m.

Radio: WOOD 1300 AM at 6:59 p.m. Web Casts: Video ($6 – B2 Networks) and audio (free) available through griffinshockey.com. Season Series: 2-1-0-0 Overall, 1-0-0-0 Home. Fourth and final meeting overall, second of two in Grand Rapids. NHL Affiliation: St. Louis Blues. Head Coach: Steve Pleau (1st season). Rollin’ on the River: Following an embarrassing 7-4 loss at Peoria in their first-ever meeting, the Griffins have rebounded with a pair of 4-2 wins against the Rivermen…Eight of the Rivermen’s 11 goals against the Griffins this season have been scored on the power play (8-for-19, 42.1%), while only three of Grand Rapids’ 12 goals have come during an advantage (3-for-28, 10.7%)…Ryan Oulahen has scored three of his six goals versus Peoria.

Sun., March 12 at Chicago Wolves (25-26-3-6) – Allstate Arena – 4 p.m.
TV: Comcast Local (ch. 23) at 4 p.m. Radio: WOOD 1300 AM at 3:40 p.m. Web Cast: Audio (free) available through griffinshockey.com. Season Series: 1-1-1-0 Overall, 0-1-0-0 Road. Fourth and final meeting overall, second of two in Rosemont. All-Time Series (W-L-T-OTL-SOL): 37-24-2-2-2 Overall, 19-14-0-1-0 Road. NHL Affiliation: Atlanta Thrashers. Head Coach: John Anderson (9th season). Hungry Like the Wolf: Eight third-period power plays helped the Wolves stave off Grand Rapids for a 5-2 win at Allstate Arena on Friday night…Chicago is the lone team on the Griffins’ schedule that they’ve yet to defeat in regulation…Former Griffin Kip Miller (2000-02;04-05), tied for fifth on the franchise’s all-time scoring list with 136 points (50-86—136), ranks second on the Wolves with 42 points (11-31—42)…Chicago sits in sixth place in the West Division, four points out of a playoff spot, putting its streak of 11 straight playoff appearances in jeopardy.

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